Kellin, the rule is innocent until proven guilty. For a drug test, in order to make sure you have an untainted sample, that requires taking the urine sample to the lab as quickly as possible.
Here, the report is basically that the courier TOOK IT HOME WITH HIM and left it there for 2 days before bringing it to the lab. It’s impossible to say what could’ve happened to the sample during that time. Certain nutrients in the urine may have naturally decayed with the stuff not stored properly, or quite simply put, something accidentally could’ve happened to it in the meantime (Imagine if it was accidentally opened).
You can’t know he actually was dirty because of this failure to maintain the proper lab procedure.
Exactly. How do you know the legal medications he was taking were directly attributed to the high testosterone levels? I never saw this as being confirmed. If it is, yay for Braun. If not, you could see why MLB would make this statement.
Comment by Rich Alan — February 23, 2012 @ 6:24 pm
Eno, nothing in the reports that have come out about the appeal have said that science proved that his high testosterone levels were due to a legally ingested substance. That’s just rank speculation. Everything reported so far has indicated it was due to a chain of custody flaw. Which if that is indeed the case means that Braun should indeed have had the suspension overturned as chain of custody is pretty much all that matters in these cases. But to say that science proved the test false is complete and utter bunk, and I’m disappointed something like that was published by Fangraphs in what otherwise was a very sensible article.
MLB is upset because Braun tested positive and was exonerated on a mishandling of the sample. For all the proclamation of how great the MLB testing policy is, we now see that the system can be beat and it opens up the possiblity of future cases being successfully appealed. It would have looked much better if MLB had embraced the appeal process and it’s decision. “Hey look, the system works”.
On MLB Network they already nailed it. Braun won because of a technicality. He tested positive, without question, end of story. The panel ruled 2-1 and MLB ‘vehemently’ disagreed with that decision. Braun got extremely lucky that MLB didn’t handle his sample according to extremely strict procedure and he beats the system by a technicality.
Disagree. There’s a scientific reason that the sample is supposed to be treated with care and moved to a lab as soon as possible. All sorts of things could have happened to the sample, and if it was indeed about a difference in timing, that could be huge to the measurement of testosterone levels.
You still need to change that part about “science” exonerating him. An arbitrator exonerated him in spite of the science, because MLB spelled out extra details their testing group didn’t bother to follow.
The “scientific” reason that it had to go to the lab is that most of the people who write guidelines lack the common sense to realize that spelling out extraneous procedural details does nothing except hurt you in a courtroom (Or in this case, an arbitration hearing). Refrigerating or freezing the sample within a few hours is a perfectly acceptable procedure.
I still have to weigh in with the folks who take issue with your “Science determined” statement. “Science” didn’t do squat. Science informed the decision of Mr. Das, but, likely so did all sorts of other things. “Science” is way too often invoked to score political points and to declare issues beyond debate, to define anyone on the “other side” as not only wrong, but stupid. Mr. Braun may very well be actually innocent (and not just insufficiently proved guilty), but such is not a scientific certainty.
How would MLB be liable? The leaks were true. Braun tested positive for a PED. The fact that some half-witted Yalie with a J.D. bought into a bullshit argument regarding chain of custody doesn’t change the results of the test.
There is no question in my mind that Braun used steroids for recovery a la Floyd Landis.
Not onboard with the Braun defender / apologist tone of this article.
He got off on a technicality. He is a PED user, probably not the only one in the NL MVP top 10.
Comment by rubesandbabes — February 23, 2012 @ 6:48 pm
I find it amazing that the same people that are so smart as to apply high end statistics to baseball data lack the ability to see the obvious. His abnormal testosterone level is not a result of sample decay. That is patently absurd. Many of us are sickened. Shame on Aaron Rodgers for defending him.
Ryan’s comment: “this is the first step in restoring my integrity and name”, blah blah blah. Why not take the real only step needed, and JUST TELL US WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED. What did you take? Was it not a PED, as your camp claimed? Then why not come out right when the failed test news came out, and tell us what happened? Why let your name get dragged through the mud for months on end if you were actually innocent?
Barry would have been smart enough to dip his hands in bleach and pee on his fingers.
Comment by Shane Heathers — February 23, 2012 @ 6:58 pm
It’s nice that you can be so sure.
Comment by oldschoolways — February 23, 2012 @ 6:59 pm
I take two things from this comedy of errors. One, the absurd result of this ruling proves once again that alternative dispute resolution, such as binding arbitration, is a horrible vessel to administer justice. There’s a reason corporate and union lawyers insist upon binding ADR in every contract, and it isn’t to serve the interests of truth and justice. Two, in spite of the results, the world knows that Ryan Braun cheated. He will never restore his integrity until he admits that he cheated and that he is sorry for doing so.
I know, the term courier makes me think Baseball’s drug testing has some holes in it. Especially if they can store it in the mini fridge at the hotel before heading back to New York.
Comment by Shane Heathers — February 23, 2012 @ 7:07 pm
-Honey, did you see a little bottle in the fridge?
-Yeah, the date must’ve been expired, this was the worse apple juice ever. I had to take a lot of medication to feel better. I’m gonna bring a urine sample to the hospital tomorrow to make sure everything allright.
-Crap….hope nobody will notice.
Comment by also said "courier" — February 23, 2012 @ 7:08 pm
My understanding is that arbitrators have a financial incentive to side with the corporate side of a dispute (more business). I don’t see how that argument is valid here. The only dissenting vote came from MLB, which is also the side responsible for the leak. That’s a conflict of interest.
he still failed the original test before it got tested further. the first test alone is enough to be fool proof. the human body is not capable of putting out as much testosterone that he originally popped for. the second test just proved they were synthetic
I think lots of info yet to come. This mishandling of evidence may very well have just been the path of least resistance to winning in arbitration. Much harder to prove that a test was flawed, etc. Continuing to reserve judgment on this one…
I don’t have the confidence that many people seem to have here about whether he did or did not use a PED. My question is to those who are convinced that Braun did. Do you think he has used them all year long? And if you do, can you explain how he didn’t test positive before? I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to PED stories, so I’m asking genuinely: is there a way for players to get around the tests?
Braun did not challenge the science because the arbitration panel will/has never sided with a player using that defense…doing so would invalidate MLB’s drug-testing program.
He chose his defense because, legally, it gave him the best chance of winning. The approach he took was tactical. Challenging the science- instead of procedures- would have been a sure loss; MLB does not allow you to question their science.
The thing about Bonds is…..it was pretty obvious something was going on. His head grew. Guy looked like a monster. Though I still support Bonds for HOF and believe he deserves all the accolades. Steroids or not, Bonds was unreal.
Braun looks the same as he did his first day in the majors. Say what you want, juicers usually get noticeably bigger. Braun swiped bags….not normally something that the juicers too. Not proof one way or the other, but still.
People were suspicious of Bonds for a reason. If this Braun positive test was handled appropriately, no one outside of MLB would ever have known about it.
I feel like its fairly obvious that Braun took something, but it wasn’t a PED.
I haven’t seen the entire procedure that MLB’s committee stupidly spelled out, but I’m going to be awfully surprised if MLB’s testing service doesn’t immediately place the samples under seal to prevent tampering, because that’s standard procedure when you’re testing a desk jockey.
Refrigerate the samples within a few hours and the T/E ratio would not be invalidated. Seal the sample and chain of custody is not a concern. The only standards violated would be arbitrary details that were spelled out and not followed. This is (probably) a case where someone did get off on a technicality in the truest sense of the phrase.
He cheated, got caught and got away. A black Ryan Braun wouldn’t have been so fortunate. I really love how many people are elated – they prove exactly why MLB made sure the “independent” panel overturned their ruling. The great white hope wins. Let’s see who is brave enough to call MLB out on it.
what if braun was using them since high school? then you wouldn’t notice a change. also maybe the reason Bonds didn’t steal bases is because he was in his late 30’s.
Comment by SF 55 for life — February 23, 2012 @ 8:01 pm
Yes, working around the testing is Plan A for all athletes using PEDs.
Giving a more tentative yes to your explanation of the physiology – I’m not an expert.
My guess is that in Braun’s case, he was using to recover better from playing every day. I have no idea whether he lifts weights or otherwise exercises during the season. Lots of guys, do.
Comment by rubesandbabes — February 23, 2012 @ 8:03 pm
This won’t be a popular comment, but there is a grain of truth to it.
Comment by rubesandbabes — February 23, 2012 @ 8:05 pm
If the testing facilitators made mistakes in transporting the sample, I am glad that Braun was exonerated. Just like our legal system, it is appropriate to make the burden of proof for prosecutors (or MLB drug testers in this case) very difficult to obtain–better to let some guilty go free than persecute the innocent. That being said, my opinion of Braun isn’t (and shouldn’t have to be) held to such strict standards. I think he took PEDs of some form or another and look forward to booing him hardily while he destroys my Cubs’ pitching this year.
Comment by Garys of Olde — February 23, 2012 @ 8:11 pm
Remember, everyone: It’s OK to convict players of PED use based on rhetorical questions.
Comment by glenstein — February 23, 2012 @ 8:16 pm
Are you suggesting the media would not have dragged his name through the mud had he “come clean”? You are serious about that?
Think about it for a bit.
Comment by Bill but not Ted — February 23, 2012 @ 8:19 pm
And then put a better system into the next CBA. While I am concerned that this will noble more PED use, MLB’s response looks a little petty.
I would have liked to hear Braun’s alternative scientific levels, but no, MLB wouldn’t let him question THEIR science.
Comment by jeff_bonds — February 23, 2012 @ 8:32 pm
Comment by Bill but not Ted — February 23, 2012 @ 8:32 pm
He was tested.. Test was mishandled.. taken home by the courier as the Fed-Ex was closed.. did the courier taint it, deliberatly or inadvertently.. Braun has taken many tests, including one immediately after, which all came back clean. Due to the irregularities in the handling of the test, along with all other test results, I give him the benefit of the doubt here.
Why should we reserve judgement ? He is clean in my books. There are many reasons a sample can be tainted just sittin on a countertop for two days, or in a home fridge, or, wherever he, his kids, his wife (his being the courier) put it.. Heck, I got kids and I am amazed at what “was leftovers” after two days.
Braun never tested positive, with a sample that was properly handled, delivered, applied tests to, etc. His only failed test, was a failed application of the test/delivery of the test. This includes many before, and many after, including one immediately after the results were shown to be fail.
MLB does not allow you to question their science. Justin F.
i.e., even if the test is defective, you can’t challenge it on those grounds. Hence, you can only win on a technicality.
If that is true, you can’t make a moral judgment on the guy. All you can say is Braun did not use the approach that would lead to an automatic loss.
What else could he have done?
Comment by Gary York — February 23, 2012 @ 8:42 pm
Unions insist on ba so they don’t have to waste dues money on lawyers. It doesn’t benefit lawyers and it’s not about justice it’s about dispute resolution.
Comment by Buck Turgidson — February 23, 2012 @ 8:42 pm
Yes, the seals may be intact, but the biological process of decay, alteration of cells (given that they lack the blood-borne nutrients to keep said cells alive are not present). Remove cells from food and they decay. What was tested was decayed cells. Not intact, normal, healthy cells. We can “hope” that they were semi normal, but.. were they? Some may decay faster. If testosterone is a slower decay, then it (as a ratio) will be more present than the rest.
Usually the sides split the cost of the arbitrator. Doesn’t make sense otherwise. Al’s arbitrators have reputations that are well known by the parties.
Comment by Buck Turgidson — February 23, 2012 @ 8:46 pm
Refrigerating the samples used in this test is the standard. They’re kept sometimes a week refrigerated before testing. If you don’t believe me, go look up an article about the test yourself instead of asking me to guess what level to spoonfeed the info to you at.
Late by two days, and make sure he takes the sample home, and does who knows with it.. leave it on the counter, near the stovetop, on top of the fridge, on the shelf by the door.. all ways to alter the contents without “removing the seal”
The world DOESNT know that. Never before, nor after did he test positive. And, the only one failed had so many handling issues that we cant be sure that the contents of the sealed container were still even valid test material.
That rumor is basically the biggest reason that I believe he was guilty. It is not at all valid to suggest that herpes medication would cause a false positive test, and it reeks of some PR employee or other layperson spending an hour on Google trying to draw connections between testosterone and legal medications that Braun would not already have had to declare to MLB.
Fun fact from someone who’s actually done labor arbitration. When there is a three arbitrator panel, with one side from the union, one from management and one a neutral arbitrator, the neutral arbitrator is the only one whose vote matters. The union arbitrator without exception sides with the union, the management arbitrator sides with management and the neutral arbtitrator breaks the tie. No one expects either of the conflicted people to act judiciously. You’ll always read about the Messersmith case that it was a decision by “arbitrator Peter Seitz” but in fact it, too, was a 2-1 decision. The other “arbitrator” who sided with Seitz was Marvin Miller. I don’t think he spent a lot of time deciding which way to vote.
Comment by Breadbaker — February 23, 2012 @ 8:54 pm
Yes, I think if he tested positive because of a medication he took, absolutely I think his reputation could have been saved had he just said that initially.
They do not decay if kept refrigerated, even for several days. Even if the guy is lying and he threw them on the counter, that would not cause the CIR to come back exogenous. Braun doesn’t have a credible explanation for this incident.
I believe Braun’s test was leaked by his lawyers, and that MLB or Selig held the test results for 2 days to give Braun an out . Let’s remember, there is a conflict of interest here Selig used to own the Brewers. By not agreeing with the third party, Selig makes the MLB look better. This stinks to the high heavens.
Huh? The world knows Ryan Braun cheated? I don’t know that. Someone just said he may have been taking a medication for an STD. Do you know for sure that’s not the case? Then how do you know he’s a cheater?
well, if memory serves, he is part white/part latino.. but, i could be wrong. if i put him in with “white”, that would get noticed as wrong…if i put him in latino, (again, assuming mix heritage).. ditto.
again, i could be wrong. didnt check.. just knee jerk reaction to the one pullin the race card above.
Comment by The House of Rothschild — February 23, 2012 @ 9:15 pm
I don’t think racism is involved here. Braun won his case because the testing rules were not followed. And I’d say most of the people who are happy with the outcome just like Ryan Braun. He seems like a genuinely nice guy. Whether the screwed up or not. Barry Bonds was/is despised not because of the color of his skin, but because of the content of his character; he was a mean-spirited jerk. I seem to remember Ken Griffey Jr. being pretty popular, for instance. Ever hear anyone hate on Prince Fielder? Last I checked Albert Pujols was not a white guy and he seems to get some love…..
Comment by Rufus T. Firefly — February 23, 2012 @ 9:18 pm
It would be nice to get some facts straight. First, samples are sealed. If the sample was provided to Fed Ex unsealed/resealed/broken seal, the sample would have been thrown out and we wouldn’t be talking about this today. I think its safe to assume that the courier simply broke protocol thinking Fed Ex was closed and that the sample would be safer in their fridge vs. in a closed Fed Ex facility over the weekend. A very bad error in judgment to say the least. Second, the sample was tested by the WDA in Monreal and did show high levels of synthetic testosterone. Third, and most importantly to you Cidron — he did not take another test “right away” as he was not informed of his failed test “right away”. He was performed after the playoffs, and that test, by an independent lab, came back within normal levels. I’m no expert, so I have no idea how quickly levels can change, or whether they can be masked, so I won’t speak to the science. Finally, because he challenged on the chain of custody, he did get off on a technicality. Since he did not challenge the actual test results, it is unfair and incorrect to say he was clean, but because the chain of custody was not proper, its also unfair to say with 100% certainty that he is/was dirty. Overall, the whole thing is in the grey area, but has left a black mark on his career.
Legal or not, if the “legal” product has ingredients on the banned substance list, it doesn’t matter whether the user knowingly ingested said ingredients — the onus is on the user to understand what they are ingesting.
I heard that the handler was an anti-Semite. I heard this a few weeks ago from the courtesy car driver at a swanky hotel in Chicago. He told me Braun was going to be found innocent due to thenhandler holding the sample too long. He was right! I have been sending in questions as to whether writers here heard that, during all the chats. No one responded.
I think you severely underestimate what happened with Bonds. To say he was “despised” is barely scratching the surface. He was the subject of years-long federal investigation that could turn up absolutely nothing, yet was kept alive because obviously there are no better things to spend federal money on. Even though he was still one of the best hitters in baseball after all this drama, MLB blackballed him into retirement. Maybe this was because Bonds was such an awful guy. After all, it’s not like MLB is a league where wife-beaters, drug-users, or rapists are allowed to play. Or maybe Bonds wasn’t so crazy to think that there was a witch-hunt focused on tainting the player who was further diminishing those treasured records held by white old-timers.
Comment by jeff_bonds — February 23, 2012 @ 9:25 pm
Science did not determine anything. The letter of the law did.
Comment by Sean O'Neill — February 23, 2012 @ 9:29 pm
Yes, you make a good point about reason for the outcome of this case.
It’s just that the people of color like Tejada and Manny get chucked into the dustbin of fandom that much more quickly (imo).
A good example would be how there is no one championing Rafael Palmeiro for the Hall of Fame (HOF) right now, while McGwire and Clemens are still at least a point of conversation for the HOF debate.
Comment by rubesandbabes — February 23, 2012 @ 9:30 pm
The combination of broken chain of custody and the fact the sample gave results well outside the expected norms, according to some outside the realm of possiblity just makes it way too likely that the sample was tainted. Braun’s side has also said that it was more than just this technicality that got it overturned so I would wait until more info comes out before you condemn the man.
“I hear the jury is still out on science.” – GOB Bluth
Comment by Fan of home team — February 23, 2012 @ 9:31 pm
Just a pathetic effort by the writer of this article, who has had to make multiple revisions to his original (attempted) hit job on MLB.
Next time, little eno, try to keep your obvious biases a little bit more hidden when attempting to write big boy articles.
FG – thought you above such yellow “journalism”.
Comment by Nick in ATL — February 23, 2012 @ 9:33 pm
@Jeff_Bonds I would hesitate to call Hank Aaron a “white old-timer.” Looking at his baseball cards, I grew up pretty sure he was an African-American fellow.
I actually liked watching Bonds play. And I agree chasing him around has been a huge waste of time and money. But he was disliked by the press and teammates long before the investigation started. Have you ever seen a moment of Bonds talking where he wasn’t either whining or being nasty? What a bummer he is. But, man, could he hit. No steroids could make a man THAT good. That’s what’s so sad. Why’d he bother. (Assuming the accusations are true.)
Comment by Rufus T. Firefly — February 23, 2012 @ 9:36 pm
So, his test is negative because of the possibility it isn’t positive?
The only thing this mess proves, is that the whole system still has some pretty major flaws.
There are only 2 ways to win this appeal. Braun used medicine prescribed to him via team doctor; or, to prove negligence in COC. Any attempt to attack the test results is inadmissible to the 3 man panel.
To those bitching about this being a technicality, that is literally the ONLY defense available. Innocence is not an option. It’s only about COC. And that MLB could mess up such a simple proceedure is embarrassing.
That’s the whole point. With Braun, we have some knowledge of two test results, yet when the tests get overturned on procedural grounds, writers rush to say “SCIENCE proved that Braun did not dope.” There is nothing like that with Bonds. Have federal agents tail Braun and hound him publicly for years, and I will bet you we’ll turn up quite a bit more than what we have.
Comment by jeff_bonds — February 23, 2012 @ 9:46 pm
I have neither the desire or time to read 131 comments on this, but I can’t let this stand-“Science determined that his test did not stand up to scrutiny.”-Are you doing a bit? Science had jack squat to do with his appeal, it was all chain of custody, which has nothing to do with science and everything to do with CYA by MLB. MLB’s courier screwed up delivering the sample and that’s why his appeal was granted, this has nothing to do with science.
Wow, Jeff, you’re playing the race card with Bonds too???? He didn’t get blackballed by MLB; no team wanted to take on the media firestorm that signing him would have created; the guy couldn’t play defense anymore or run the bases; oh yeah, and the clubhouse cancer thing, too.
Good point, Erick. I’m sure no self respecting scientist would ever care to be bothered with following all protocols to ensure the validity of their tests. Most scientists just lay down a framework to be followed and when it isn’t met, throw up their hands and say, “close enough”.
Comment by deadhead — February 23, 2012 @ 10:05 pm
I will eagerly await your opinion piece on why SCIENCE proved that Bonds never used steroids.
Comment by jeff_bonds — February 23, 2012 @ 10:06 pm
Except you admitted to using both “the Cream” and “the Clear,” you just had the audacity to say you didn’t know they were ‘roids. You told us to our face that you had ‘roids administered, and then expected us to believe that you had no idea what they were.
You’re not innocent. You’re either incredibly ignorant or incredibly arrogant.
Yeah you are right. Defensively challenged players have no place in baseball, even if they can hit to the tune of .420 wOBA. After all, isn’t that why Prince Fielder had to take a minor league deal in Japan after no MLB team would sign him to the 7th largest contract in history? And of course, media firestorm is a huge deal since MLB clubs usually hardly ever have media around.
Comment by jeff_bonds — February 23, 2012 @ 10:11 pm
You make an excellent point. We do not know if Braun coming up clean on his next test should count as a tally in his favor. Few of us are truly knowledgeable about the effects of HGH on the human body. Hell, there’s an alarming number of people that do not realize HGH and steroids are not the same thing.
I fail to see how this “has left a black mark on his career.” Like you said, “the whole thing is in the grey area.” Not the black-mark-on-your-career area.
In college I would sometimes get scolded by my professors for not citing all my sources, so I want to give a shout out to the US Judicial System credit for my closing argument: that every person is innocent until proven guilty, and without a reasonable doubt.
Comment by Justin F — February 23, 2012 @ 10:19 pm
I would like to support jeff_bonds by mentioning that Barry Bonds is the modern day Jack Johnson. Racial perception and all that is part of the Bonds as sports star question. It’s there.
Comment by rubesandbabes — February 23, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
Properly handling your materials is kind of essential to science.
The problem I have with your logic is that you seem to think that Bonds being treated badly is a reason to treat Braun badly too. Bonds should have been treated better. And MLB should be ashamed of itself for continuing to try to get Braun when they’re well aware that their sample was invalid.
Barry Bonds broke the two most hallowed records in baseball history, almost assuredly because he used steroids. Braun just won an MVP. Oh, and Bonds was involved in more than one ongoing federal investigation. Can you not see the difference in the two? And you claim it’s because one is white and one is black?
Willingham will have a taint on him? I don’t want to know how that got there.
Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — February 23, 2012 @ 11:13 pm
Actually when Bonds played most others juiced and the league unofficially condoned it, so I think Bonds should get more of a pass than Braun. Basically Braun was caught with the gun in his hand, but somehow the cops erased his finger prints, so he got off.
I am now nicknaming Braun the technician !!!!
Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — February 23, 2012 @ 11:18 pm
Generally speaking, you have to sign HIPAA paperwork when giving a UA sample. No part of that paperwork releases any party to release that information to the public. Unless they skipped the HIPAA paperwork for some reason, then the leak was an actual federal crime.
Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — February 23, 2012 @ 11:20 pm
The important part is was it properly refrigerated? There are simply too many question marks surrounding that. Plus how likely is this one abnormally high level sample be definitive compared to every other test when there has been a breach of protocol?
“Ryan Braun. Science determined that his test did not stand up to scrutiny. Why would you come out and make a statement against this science? ”
This is nonsense. Chain of custody was maintained, it was just in the collectors possession longer than according to the protocol. How secure is Fed Ex chain of custody anyways, it could be handled by dozens of unknown individuals, and sitting in a hot Fed Ex truck for hrs. The samples would have had a seal which would have showed evidence of tampering.
As for the extra time, there is no way that testosterone levels would increase in the urine sample, if anything, testosterone would degrade over time and break down. Even if it influenced the T/E test which has a high false positive rate anyways, the gold standard CRI would be unaffected as it measures C13/C12 which would not be affected by storage conditions.
I personally believe the validity of testosterone testing is not that high, even in the gold standard test. I also believe most MLB players use short acting testosterone which has a half life of 1 hr and can be used at night after games allowing the player to be clean by the time he reports to the park (where he may be tested).
Also, I believe many players are able to use longer acting steroids in the offseason. How do you collect specimens when a player is in the DR or at the API.
So Braun fails drug tests and it’s because his urine makes testosterone when left out in the open. Let’s leave it at that. After all, science has proven this incredible ability of Ryan Braun.
Comment by jeff_bonds — February 23, 2012 @ 11:22 pm
Let me see if I can sum up the anti-Braun argument:
The fact that a confidential test was somehow made public by the same organization (MLB) who hired a random stranger from FedEx, who then took a piece of privately-owned evidence home with him, somehow taints Ryan That it makes him guilty? Without a reasonable doubt?
That might be the weakest argument anyone has ever made about anything. But good news is I have some magic beans to sell you.
Side note: Am I the only one disturbed that a FedEx employee took a privately-owned, work-related document home with him FOR 2 DAYS?? Is this common practice?
Comment by Justin F — February 23, 2012 @ 11:22 pm
So now we’re blaming the Courier’s taint?
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 23, 2012 @ 11:22 pm
McGwire has gotten off easy in my opinion. Heck he is a hitting coach. That is like asking a pedophile to babysit.
Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — February 23, 2012 @ 11:22 pm
Nixon said the same about Watergate, and A-Rod/Manny/Papi said the same about their positive results in the 2003 study.
The positive test was over-ruled because of a procedural variation.
No one has shown that the variance in procedure caused the positive test. All that was revealed is that the test was over-ruled because of the technicality.
Having the suspension removed, the decision over-ruled, and being “clean” are two different things.
Count me as one in the “hell if I know” group.
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 23, 2012 @ 11:28 pm
Justin, you did a pretty poor job of summing up the anti-Braun argument. The argument is more like this:
Suppose cops find cocaine in your house. As it turns out, they didn’t have a proper search warrant so you don’t have to do any time. Does that make you innocent, just because you got away on a technicality? When push comes to shove, you still had cocaine in your house.
Why are you assuming that the courier tainted the evidence? How would he even do that, if it was sealed? And as for the two day issue, what else is he supposed to do? If I give you a package to take to the post office on a Saturday and you think the post office is closed – wouldn’t you keep the package until Monday?
Comment by vivalajeter — February 23, 2012 @ 11:32 pm
He got off on a technicality, but that does not mean that science would not have proved him innocent. It does not mean that science did prove him innocent, certainly, but there are still many unanswered questions about the results whose answers we will now likely never know.
So in the end, what everyone on here is complaining about is, Braun should’ve proved that what he took wasn’t intended to be used as a PED. Well guess what folks? He would’ve served the 50 game suspension even if he had. That’s what makes the rule idiotic: it hangs the guilty and the innocent right next to each other. Braun and his lawyer did what’s best for Braun and the Brewers: they got him out of missing 1/3rd of the season. You want justice, take this up with the MLB. They made the environment where technicalities are more important than the truth of the matter.
Comment by Oregon Nut Cups — February 24, 2012 @ 1:18 am
Where did I say science proved anything? I said all of the process is part of science and they failed at it.
The burden of proof is on them at that point to show it’s still a credible test, not on the accused to leap through hoops and prove he’s innocent.
vivalajeter, that’s a poor analogy. It’s more like, pursuant to a murder investigation, the police test your DNA against some skin found underneath the victim’s fingernails. Your DNA matches, and you’re put on trial for murder. Except the police lab technician brought the DNA samples home in violation of required procedures. And who knows what happened with the DNA samples while they were at this random tech’s house all weekend. Technicality?
Also: the Constitution of the United States is hardly a technicality.
I hope you’re right about that. If so, what POSSIBLE reason would Ryan Braun not tell us later this morning that this is indeed what happened? Because if he’s extremely vague and blabbers on about how happy he is to have this over with without addressing what actually caused the positive test result, the speculation will continue. He has a chance to pretty much bury it tomorrow. Will he?
I’m not even going to comment on Braun’s guilt, but this is arguably the most ridiculous thing ever posted on Fangraphs, “Ryan Braun. Science determined that his test did not stand up to scrutiny. Why would you come out and make a statement against this science? ”.
There is more to this story than has been revealed, numerous sources have alluded to it. Will Carroll said he would post an article about it soon as well. I wouldn’t judge Braun until all the info comes out and I certainly wouldn’t trust anything that comes out of ESPN since their entire handling of everything involved with this story has been a complete disgrace. I have lost the last shred of respect I had for that network at this point.
I’ve always wanted to take some PEDs myself but I don’t like needles. Now I know just to leave the rubbers at home the next time I sleep with some questionable skank. The VD medications now come packed with insanely high levels of synthetic testosterone.
Yeah I’m somewhat in the “hell if I know group” but my heart currently leans towards Braun being dirty. The mishandling of the sample does add the doubt and lack of 100% certainty, and it’s hard to believe the Fed Ex dude had a motive behind his delay other then what he stated, but it IS possible. Just doesn’t seem plausible to me at this point.
I still believe he could’ve unknowingly taken testosterone boosters, they can easily be found as secondary ingredients in supplements that you can purchase in stores. The fact that his levels were “insanely high” suggests that if the sample wasn’t tampered with, he had a substance/supp. that was probably marketed clearly as a test. booster. In light of me thinking that it’s feasible he probably did take something, part of me is like, “athletes should know by now, we’ve been through this process over and over, how can you NOT know what substances/supplements your sport will not allow you to use?”.
On the other hand, another part of me thinks that more times then not, players like Braun have certified nutritionists as well people within the Brewers organization that get paid to provide him with all the supplements necessary for him. Though it’s unlikely, I believe it’s also possible that these people could unintentionally supply Braun with supplements that included banned substances and Braun would take the fall for that. If this was the problem though, I think it wouldn’t be just Braun under fire here in that organization
It’s unfortunate because if all of this was supposed to be hidden from us in the first place, I’m confused to think what situation is better. Should the fans know this type of info so we can all speculate and accuse falsely? Or is it better left unknown when there really might be some substance to the Braun case. Now that it’s brought to the surface, Braun could be clean for the rest of his career and this one scenario will always be the “grey” area as stated.
Hopefully Braun doesn’t have any nagging or lingering injuries (hammy, quad, etc) during the upcoming season that requires him to go DL one or two times…There would likely be a media frenzy and speculation and accusations would come out the woodworks.
Comment by Young Gung — February 24, 2012 @ 4:31 am
As I see it…
Fact 1) His urine had high levels of synthetic testosterone.
Fact 2) The suspension was overturned based on chain of custody issues.
Fact 3) Chain of custody issues could NOT increase the levels of synthetic testosterone without some form of tampering and somehow adding testosterone to his urine, or swapping his urine with other urine.
Fact 4) The test was received at the lab with the seals in perfect condition, without any indication that the sample had been tampered with, and didnt not show any sign that it was affected by the conditions it was stored in during shipment and or handling by the collector. Verified by the lab that tested it.
Fact 5) The failed test is proof that he took steroids.
Fact 6) The result of the hearing do not change the fact that he took steroids.
Fact 7) Anyone who doesn’t agree is wrong.
That’s how I see it.
Comment by Maverick60 — February 24, 2012 @ 4:34 am
And it was not a Fed Ex employee that took the sample home like some make it sound. It was the person that took the sample from Braun. Instead of dropping it off at fed ex where it would have sat in the fed ex facility, he took i to his house, WADA has said that this is not an uncommon procedure with samples it tests. The only issue with it in this instance is that MLB has wording in its protocol that the arbitrator decided would not allow that to happen. But in most other testing protocols around sports that use WADA testing that do not include the same wording in their in house testing manual, that situation would have been perfectly acceptable. MLB, along with the World Ant-Doping Agency does not agree that the wording in the testing manual does not allow for this situation to take place. Only this Shyam guy and Brauns lawyers believe that constitutes throwing out this test.
Comment by Maverick60 — February 24, 2012 @ 4:44 am
while you’re technically correct, you’re also being deliberately misleading; Theron is one of the very few people who are actual African-Americans, as she was born in South Africa, and lived there for 15 years. she became a naturalized citizen in 2007 and maintains her dual citizenship. people like her, and you, are a large part of why the phrase “African-American” needs to stop being used to refer to “black people”
Delay in testing the sample can cause false positives–that’s why they have these rules about handling the sample. Add to that the fact that he had the highest test result in history, and it’s obvious that there was something screwy about the test results.
It was against the rules, they just didn’t have testing.
Comment by I Agree Guy — February 24, 2012 @ 8:03 am
But what if enough people like him? After all, he is not like Bonds. Let’s pretend like we’re the media and ignore those facts and emphasize speculations:
1. Procedure was broken, ergo, there is no way for us to be sure of the test results, even if we know for certain the specimen seal was not broken.
2. Sitting in a refrigerator of a courier, as opposed to sitting in a refrigerator at a lab, might cause the build up of synthetic testosterone.
3. PED use is not that bad really in all cases because Braun is a likeable guy, and look, his head isn’t big, and his numbers are not drastically different; no hallowed records were broken. Braun is a likeable guy, so let’s just agree that a gross COC violation throws science into question.
for the purpose of due process and protection of others ok, but Braun is still guilty. There was a legal game played here; Braun is playing the only card he has left. Another bad day for Truth. I am ok with it as long as all the facts are otherwise out and we can all have informed opinions. Based on all the other 99 facts, he is guilty, guilty as OJ. Braun can keep his fig leaf. Anyone willing to look at this with all the facts, not just COC to all others, can not believe his proclamation of innocence.
The positive test was not overturned, the suspension was. The test stands on its merits and the sample was indeed tainted. Braun’s arguing that the chain of custody was not followed is not a proclamation of his innocence but rather an admonishment of the tester for not following the procedures to the letter.
There is no way it took a month and a half for the arbitrator to ruminate on fedex being closed.
There is more to this than we know, and we should all calm down and wait a little longer before getting in arguments all up and down the internets.
Comment by Ginger Croissant — February 24, 2012 @ 9:43 am
The failed test should have never been made public before the expiration of the appeal. Having sais that, Braun hasn’t been exonerated of anything with respect to the test; he simply avoided punishment based upon a technicality, plain and simple.
Comment by bvillebaron — February 24, 2012 @ 10:00 am
Those who are arguing that the collector was wrong in taking the sample home and putting it in his fridge are missing some key points.
– The sample was collected on a Saturday night in October.
– The MLB Joint Drug Agreement stipulates that samples are to be shipped by FedEx to the testing facility.
– FedEx would have been closed by the time the collector got there, and the JDA clearly states that the dropbox is NOT to be used.
– The JDA goes on to say that if a sample cannot be shipped immediately, it is to be stored in a “cool and secure location” (exact quote) until it can be shipped.
What Ryan Braun’s representatives argued is that this collector’s fridge was not a “secure location.” But this begs the question: what SHOULD he have done with it? Put it in one of the many 24-hour climate controlled vaults in the neighborhood?
The fact is, putting samples in fridges until they can be shipped is standard procedure for drug testing agencies all over the world. But we’re supposed to believe that a trained drug-testing official, jointly hired by both MLB and the player’s union and doing a case by the book, compromised a sample which showed no signs of tampering to the point where testosterone spontaneously generated?
Not only is this a really weaselly technicality to dodge a suspension with, it also sets a really bad precedence for future drug testing cases. A sport like MLB, with a spotty history on drugs to begin with, can ill afford to have nonsensical loopholes like this one.
MLB’s attitude to this one is extreme. It is fine to disagree with the arbitrator’s ruling, but the vehemence is over-the-top, especially in the context of MLB’s decade (at least) of inaction. Are reformed do-nothings like reformed ex-smokers?
On the merits, we, as usual, do not have enough information to make any kind of reasonable comment.
Comment by Mike Green — February 24, 2012 @ 10:43 am
He had to have two violations to invoke a suspension
So, basically…dude still juiced, but who gives a shit? If athletes are willing to do horrible things to their bodies to help their teams win and entertain me, though I’m sure that last part is probably further down their lists, who am I to judge or disagree? If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying…steroids and trying to get a competitive advantage are a part of sports and competition in general, who cares? I consider juicing no where near as bad as stealing signs (not just guessing and gamesman ship) or half the other stuff that’s considered “okay.” Dude’s guilty as hell, but who cares? April’s right around the corner so…
Bonds apologists need to check themselves. There’s no doubt he took steroids, because he admitted it. His “defense” was he thought it was a different product that was legal, flaxseed oil. But we know the product he took was the Cream and the Clear, developed by BALCO, which are known effective PEDs. So the only “courtesy” you could extend to Bonds is that you believe that he paid big money to Conte for flaxseed oil. No, I’m not willing to extend that courtesy. Thanks for the false analogy.
Comment by Trotter76 — February 24, 2012 @ 11:05 am
Man, it’s just baseball. I find the idea of an employer meddling in the healthcare choices of an employee a much more disturbing topic than PED’s. For argument’s sake, let’s say the dude does have an STD. Do you expect him to disclose this to MLB when everything damn thing gets leaked to the media? Yet the shit’s flaring up, so he’s got to do something.
I really don’t understand why testing needs to be a zero-sum game. This system is terrible. An employee and his doctor should be able to decide on the proper medical treatments without having to disclose it to an employer. If a player fails a test due to a medical treatment, then there should be a rational discussion behind closed doors on the merits of the procedure. Have a group of doctors on the arbitration panel. They need to do the messy work of judging intention, case by case, or the whole system just loses credibility.
It isn’t a ‘technicality’. There is a protocol in place, modeled after the procedures of the World Anti-Doping League, and agreed to by both MLB and the MLBPA, that must be followed during testing. These protocols are in place for two reasons: to protect the science from false results due to delays, and to protect the evidence (the sample) from claims of tampering by following a chain of custody. It appears in this case that there were significant questions about the chain of custody, and maybe some about the science–enough so that, for the first time ever, a MLB player’s suspension was overturned by an panel (made up of management, labor, and an independent arbiter).
From the articles and statements I have read, the overturn hinged upon the chain of custody issue, but that was not the ONLY defense he made. Reading between the lines, I think you can reasonably assume that this may have been a situation involving a medical issue. Baseball initially said it was a synthetic testosterone that he tested positive for,, but then backed off and corrected that as ‘a banned substance, not a PED’. Also, Braun and his spokespeople have said all along that it was not an intentional violation and was an accidental ingestion of a banned substance. His spokesperson also said from day1 that there ‘were an unusual set of circumstances’ in this case that led to the positive test that Braun would show it was unintentional and he would be exonerated when they were known. Nobody is discussing specifics, but speaking in generalities, which indicates that there could be some HIPAA ramifications (MLB and the Brewers can’t discuss personal medical info without his consent).
Baseball’s position on unintentional ingestion has always been that it is the player’s responsibility to read the labels of all supplements and substances they are using to ensure they do not contain banned substances. However, some supplement companies have been known to put the banned substances in a product and then fail to disclose it. This is the only real defensible position of unintentionally ingesting a banned substance, outside of medical necessity for prescription medication. If you recall, several years ago 4 NFL players won a lawsuit against a supplement company for putting a banned substance in the supplement and failing to disclose the ingredient, which led to a positive PED test for them.
Really, if it was testosterone, I think it’s pretty clear what was going on.
Ryan Braun may be a hermaphrodite undergoing hormone therapy.
Seriously though. The protocols are in place for a reason. Just as the players have rules to follow regarding using the substances, MLB has rules they must follow regarding testing. Nobody is calling on MLB to explain why a second test that was tested under the proper protocols just days later tested clean.
I’m just saying that using the statement that “science determined…” insinuates that further scientific analysis is what won him the appeal when that is not the case, and is at least a bit misleading. Should the MLB courier have followed chain of custody guidelines? Absolutely. However, the courier’s negligence is not “science” proving Braun right, it is a technicality. I just think that the statement was a bit misleading.
Although now that Enos has changed it to show that it was the process, not the science itself, the statement is much less misleading.
I think it’s awesome that Aaron Rodgers got brought into this.
Comment by drewcorb — February 24, 2012 @ 11:15 am
well, that group should probably be a lot bigger than it is
Comment by juan pierres mustache — February 24, 2012 @ 11:27 am
“Yes, the seals may be intact, but the biological process of decay, alteration of cells (given that they lack the blood-borne nutrients to keep said cells alive are not present). Remove cells from food and they decay. What was tested was decayed cells.”
They are not testing cells at all. They are measuring metabolites in urine. Even if the sample was left at room temperature all weekend it would not cause a false positive test because the ratio of the metabolites would stay relatively constant.
Overturning the suspension was entirely a technicality. There is no scientific explanation for how the sample could falsely measure positive because the sample was stored at room temperature for two days.
Many field biologists collect and measure metabolites from wild animals to investigate the role of hormone levels on behavior. I have a friend who collects baboon feces in Africa to measure hormone metabolites. Needless to say, his monkey shit cannot be immediately frozen or refrigerated because these facilities don’t exist in the field. The absolute levels cannot then be compared between animals because of the difference in sample handling. However, the ratios can be compared.
Real science protocol is not at the whim of a testing body. Scientists would consider Braun to have failed the test. Braun got off because a procedure that had nothing to do with science and everything to do with expectations of fair testing was violated.
Haha I like your name. Not quite as credible as a diploma, but close.
Comment by drewcorb — February 24, 2012 @ 11:30 am
@Yirmiyahu – the whole “might have not been Braun’s” thing is extremely pedantic. The sample spent some time in a fridge because the Fedex weekend shipping deadline was missed. But the seals placed on the sample were intact & authenticated. The urine was Braun’s. Period. Shas’s ruling is more about the nature of the contract between MLB & MLBPA than it is about Braun’s guilt or lack thereof.
Comment by Someanalyst — February 24, 2012 @ 11:33 am
Great article here – argues against verdict as win on technicality
New ESPN alert….Braun’s second test came back clean, except that he is pregnant.
Comment by Neuter Your Dogma — February 24, 2012 @ 12:01 pm
I know the discussion has moved in a more intelligent direction, but I just read all 237 comments, so I ma back tracking a little bit here.
To the 3 guys in the thread who claimed Braun was let off due to his skin color being lighter than Barry Bonds or Manny Ramirez, that is incredibly sad. Especially when no other logical thought is brought to your comments. I am not saying the Bonds federal trial was not, in some part, related to race. Race is a factor in society that can not be ignored. That will never go away and we shouldn’t pretend it will. I believe the factor race plays does not mean direct racism. It would be just as easy for me to claim you are claiming Ryan Braun is guilty due to his Jewish ancestry. It would be petty and baseless. There is more to life than skin color, even in the world of prejudice.
In regards to the people who default to the Bud Selig/Brewers connection, I am not sure that holds up as much weight as you’d like. For a time period, the Brewers were still in the Selig family while Bud was commisioner. During that time, your argument would hold due to the direct monetary gain into the Selig family. The Selig family has no part in ownership of the Brewers at this time. Not to say that Bud doesn’t want to see the Brewers succeed. He is still a fan, and always will be. The fact that there is no direct link has to mean enough to the point where that there is more to a situation of this magnitude. If we made every person who comments here on this site list what team they are a fan of before each comment, it would be simple to write off every NL Cental fan, or every NL fan in general because Braun suspension conflicts with the success of their chosen team. We trust our logic enough to rise above that when analyzing a situation like this one, at least temporarily. I am not sure why we wouldn’t expect the same from the commisioner of MLB simply beacuse he happens to also be a fan.
Sadly, I beleive Braun took some type of PED. I am of the opinion that probably did so knowingly. The reason this is sad is beacuse I am a Brewer fan. That is not easy to say, but if Chris Carpenter was in this same spot, I would let me Cardinal fan friends here about it. Since I don’t know enough to be sure on the Ryan Braun, I will not spend too much time worrying about it or labeling him. Overall, ths is the best discussion I have seen on the topic so far.
Also, can anybody with more scientific knowledge than myself speculate on the result that a time period of two days or so would have on a sample if left at room temperature?
Comment by DirtyDisa — February 24, 2012 @ 12:21 pm
From Espn’s article yesterday. It was also reported by other sites in the same manner.
A source said the director of the Montreal Olympic doping lab, Christiane Ayotte, testified during the hearing that it was not unusual for the balance to be different, as the equipment used in the field is not as sophisticated and accurate as the equipment in the lab. She also said she did not question the integrity of the sample and that it arrived with all seals intact.
Sources told Quinn and Fainaru-Wada the seals were totally intact and testing never reflected any degradation of the sample. Based on the World Anti-Doping Agency code, this is exactly what would have been expected to happen, and the collector took the proper action, the source said.
This last para is based on the comments from the WADA that basically stated that the handling of the sample in the way it was, by being taken to the test collectors home for the weekend is not something that is unusual, and does not bring results into question in other cases, just this one. I heard him speaking on XM I believe, but do not have quotes on the subject.
Comment by Maverick60 — February 24, 2012 @ 12:42 pm
Sources told Quinn and Fainaru-Wada the seals were totally intact and testing never reflected any degradation of the sample.
And with only a slight bit of formal education on the subject, but a lot of personal research on steroid use for numerous reasons, based on what I know of the science behind it, the sample could sit in the conditions described for as long as two weeks or more without negative effects. It is also scientifically impossible for the sample to increase its levels of hormones simply by being left in less than optimal conditions. If they found high testosterone levels in his urine, it is either because he had high levels of testosterone in his body when the sample was taken, or someone purposely added it to his sample while it was in transit. The sample collector that kept the sample over the weekend is a professional sample collector.
Comment by Maverick60 — February 24, 2012 @ 1:02 pm
Soooo… He denied using a steroid, but only addressed the loophole. The sample was in the hands of of an authorized sample handling employee. That is the part of the procedure he is questioning?
Comment by Maverick60 — February 24, 2012 @ 1:17 pm
It is theoretically possible for certain bacteria to alter the testosterone and epitestosterone concentrations in the sample if it was left at room temperature for a few days, which is why they are refrigerated. This would not, though, change the results of the follow-up CIR test, which is done to confirm that the testosterone is exogenous.
It’s not a technicality when the police enter your house without a warrant, it’s the governement breaking and entering into your home. There are really good reasons that the government can’t call anything evidence that gets acquired that way.
Comment by philosofool — February 24, 2012 @ 2:23 pm
Ryan Braun is only half-White.
Comment by Gundisalvus — February 24, 2012 @ 2:31 pm
I agree with you.
It’s not hard to see where Shyam Das, Allen “Bud” Selig, Ryan Braun, Michael Weiner, and Rob Manfred could find some common [read: Hegelian] ground to this sticky situation.
Comment by Gundisalvus — February 24, 2012 @ 2:35 pm
Comment by Gundisalvus — February 24, 2012 @ 2:36 pm
See the original author: “Science — or the collectively bargained scientific process, at the very least — determined that his test did not stand up to scrutiny.”
It didn’t. A *failure* in that scientific process was used to weasel an out by Braun’s Most Valuable Lawyers. This wasn’t even a technicality, it was a loophole, rapidly closed by MLB after the decision.
Phil, I agree 100%, and in a court of law the evidence absolutely should not count. But that doesn’t take away the fact that you had coke with you – and in the court of public opinion, they’ll take that into account.
Comment by vivalajeter — February 24, 2012 @ 3:54 pm
I’m starting to tire of this.
What do we actually know? Very little.
We know that Braun failed a drug test last October. We only know that because it was leaked to the media, which is shady. Since then, a lot more information regarding the case has come out, most all of it through “anonymous” sources who were “close to the proceedings” as this is all still supposed to be totally confidential.
Has anyone here seen a copy of the lab report on the urine test? Do you know the ratio of epitestosterone:testosterone that was found in the urine? I have read reports of 20:1 up to 30:1. Nobody seems to know exactly. Do you know how much, if any, synthetic testosterone was found? Again, if you haven’t actually seen the lab report, you don’t. You’re trusting someone who is not supposed to be talking and is leaking this stuff to the media. I’m not talking about the reporters, who are just doing their jobs; I’m talking about the people with the information who are not supposed to be giving it out.
Do you know every medication that Ryan Braun takes for any reason? Do you know whether or not those medications could cause a falsely positive test?
Were you there when the sample was collected? Were you there when it supposedly sat in some guy’s refrigerator for a whole weekend while it was supposed to be en route to the lab? Were you there?
What do you know about what happens to a urine sample while it sits? How about while it sits when it is refrigerated versus not?
At this point there are only two things that we know for sure:
1.MLB says Ryan Braun had a positive urine test, meaning that they found something amiss in the sample. Most sources say that it was an elevated epitestosterone:testosterone ratio, which would imply at least 4:1 (the threshold for a positive test). Fair, but without seeing the report we don’t know.
2.The second thing that we know is that after an appeal, a 2-1 decision was handed down that Braun did not violate the league’s drug policy and should not be punished.
Everything else is hearsay at this point. Until I see lab reports, briefs, and transcripts of testimony, that’s all I know I know. I’m willing to bet you don’t know that much either. But you know what? There were experts on both sides directly involved in this who knew and know a lot more than any of us, and the decision that came down was that Braun shouldn’t be suspended. And we’re not even supposed to know that.
There is one thing I hope we all can agree on: whoever it was that let the pee sit in the fridge all weekend is probably out of a job, which means that if you want to get paid to tote around the urine of professional athletes, there just might be an opening for you…
Man oh man, would some of these commenters fit in beautifully in Salem circa 1692.
We know dick about the case, and the arbitrator who has all the information cleared Braun.
As far as we know, there was a single piece of evidence against Braun, and it was handled completely improperly. It was stored — maybe in a proper fridge, maybe not — by some dude who, as far as we know, has zero clue how to properly store a sample.
I don’t know if the dude mistakenly knocked a tub of fucking Teriyaki Chicken onto the lid of the sample, played hackeysack with it,
That’s why chain of custody is so damned important.
So, if the slivers of information we have in this case are true: there’s one piece of evidence against Braun. One. Uno. And the guidelines regarding how it is to be handled were clearly not followed. And yet there is actual SURPRISE the arbitrator found in Braun’s favor? And, as a bonus, we’ve got folks calling Braun guilty anyhow!
Score ten points for killing off the jury system as we know it in this country. No wonder there’s a recent rash of black guys being cleared of crimes long after they’ve been killed or have spent 30 years in prison. Because the general public is fucking stupid, and can’t see past their preconceived notions of a person long enough to give a guy a fair shake.
1. The sample did not sit in a refrigerator. The sample sat out on some guy’s (who did not work for Fed Ex) desk in a tupperware container.
2. Braun offered to take a DNA test to see if it matched the urine-MLB declined.
3. Chain of custody is extremely important.
4. The standard of proof in an arbitration proceeding is normally “preponderance of the evidence” not “reasonable doubt.”
5. Braun passed subsequent drug tests.
6. The arbitrator has yet to release his decision; let’s wait and actually read it before condemning a man who was just found to have not committed the act he was accused of by an independent arbitrator who ruled for MLB in the previous 12 arbitrations.
The DNA match not being done is interesting. That would have alleviated any question of tampering by the arbitrator, since the only way I can see how a sample could be tampered with to give a positive result is to replace the urine with a sample from a known steroid user.
I would like to know more from MLB as to why they did not do a test that would rule out tampering in light of the chain of custody issues.
Maybe this was the desired outcome given Braun is a star for the Brewers.
Brauns sample was collected October 1. He was notified of the result October 19. Any new sample would have been taken at least 3 weeks from the date of the 1st sample (we don’t know the date of the request nor the date when a new sample was collected. Testosterone would be cleared from the system within 7 days and he would test negative even if he was positive on October 1.
A bit over a month ago I went to the Red Cross for my regular platelet donation.
They drew a sample and told me to come back in two weeks. It seems my previous donation over the holidays had one of the sample tubes mishandled (out of the eight or so sample tubes they draw), so they tossed out the sample, drew a new one, and retested.
Because that’s what you do when you have an improperly handled sample. In my particular case the only point to that sample was to check that they weren’t depleting my platelets, since I’ve been giving at roughly the same rate for decades and pretty well uniformly test as high I’d have said the risk was minimal.
Doesn’t matter, throw out the sample and start over. You don’t get to change the chain of custody rules on the fly. Nor do you even bother to test the sample when you know chain of custody wasn’t followed.
Now we have this case. Chain of custody wasn’t followed, but they didn’t retest, instead they tested the invalid sample, then someone leaked the results…. We’ve got a MINIMUM of three clearcut violations of proceedure here, the initial misshandling, the improper testing, and the outright illegal leak.
So we know rules and laws were broken, and it’s even possible that some of the violations were by Braun, but I’m not saying it’s sure when the other side can’t be bothered to follow the rules or proceedures or laws.
Comment by Doug Lampert — February 24, 2012 @ 11:48 pm
This explains why Rob Manfred, who works for Selig, was the dissenting vote on the panel. It’s all so clear now!
That’s the bottom line: he tested positive, something that he has not refuted in arbitration, but publicly he wants to act like it was all a misunderstanding.
I, for one, am happy we still have sources willing to leak information. It’s the only thing that keeps any faith in this testing system.
If this were the Olympics, Braun is sitting for two years, but MLB has its own arbitration and appeals policy which is completely “in house” and not at all independent or transparent. The arbitrators are appointed by MLB and the MLBPA.
What’s needed is an overseer from WADA at EVERY stage of the process, including the appeals stage.
Why was Braun given so much time in this case? The whole thing appeared suspect from day one.
He didn’t win on a COC technicality. His lawyers suubjected a urine sample to the same conditions as the chain of custody break, and they were able to produce a similar false positive. See my post above and please listen to Will Carroll on the link.
“The fact is that we do not know what happened to the urine sample when it was not delivered per protocol. ”
Would we know what happened if it sat in Fed Ex storage for 44 hrs with dozens of people having access to it?
Braun got off on a technicality, good for him. I think Bud Selig is also quite happy since it was the Brewers and losing Brain for 1/3 of the season could not help revenues. MLB has to complain to keep congress off it’s back. I am sure Congress is asking why no impact players have tested positive, and now that one has, he gets off on a technicality.
This arbitrator in this case is the same one that ruled MLB had no right to suspend Kenny Rogers for pushing and injuring a cameraman on the field. No surprise. Braun should give him a nice bonus.
There is no proof it was anyone in MLB that leaked it.
MLB hired nobody to collect. MLB and MLBPA agreed to hire CDT to collect. CDT also works for the DOJ.
The collector has been vetted by CDT, and his home is probably as secure as the Fed Ex storage area over a weekend. If any tapering is done while the sample is in his custody, he has to answer to the FBI.
What would motivate him to tamper with the sample anyways, and risk prosecution?
“But that doesn’t take away the fact that you had coke with you”
The presence of cocaine in my house is in no way proof that it is mine. This analogy is flawed and a very poor example of what you’re trying to say. It’s a helluva lot easier for cocaine that’s not mine to get into my house than it is for testosterone that’s not mine to get into my urine.
But the signal forgets one thing: Ryan Braun. Science — or the collectively bargained scientific process, at the very least — determined that his test did not stand up to scrutiny.
There was nothing wrong with the test itself. There was only a flaw — really a discrepancy — between MLB and CDT in the mandated timing of shipping in the collection process. And in this case, the experts have weighed in and said the discrepancy is not relevant to the testing results. That a 2-day delay in shipment would not result in such spikes in artificial testosterone in a urine sample.
Obviously the arbitrator disagreed. But it appears to me that most baseball fans aren’t fooled and know Braun likely cheated. Because there is no other explanation for the elevated spike of synthetic testosterone in his pee.
What I find surprising and sad is that many who write on Fangraphs — a site dedicated to viewing baseball in a more scientific way — ignore the science when it comes to PEDs and serve as apologists for steroids cheats.